John Hume – “Ireland’s Greatest?” worksheet

The Life and Legacy of John Hume – Ireland’s Greatest worksheet – PDF

The Life and Legacy of John Hume – Ireland’s Greatest worksheet – MS Word

When you’re teaching both Junior and Senior History and L.C. Politics & Society there are inevitably lots of overlaps. Next week I’ll be starting into the LC History case study on the Coleraine University Controversy, but the overlaps with Pol-Soc’s Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, and a deeper understanding of the Northern Ireland political landscape obviously create lots of opportunities for synergy.

I’ll also be starting into the Junior Cycle History Learning Outcome 2.5 – “Identify the Course, Course, and Consequences of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’  and their impact on North-South and Anglo-Irish Relations” with my 3rd years. With that course being so ‘full’ and time pressure being an evitable constraint on virtually everything I try to do with my third years (in particular), I’ve decided to approach this topic through the lens of the Life and Legacy of John Hume. It doesn’t cover everything, but when used in conjunction with their textbook and other resourses, Miriam O’Callaghan’s documentary “Ireland’s Greatest?” from a few years back, makes for a very accessible approach to the topic.

But with JC History, there’s also the need to “Box Smart”, so I’ve included suggestions about how to link the topic to other parts of the JC Subject Specification too, particularly (but not exclusively) to L.O. 1.9 & 2.2, but it could easily be used with Learning Outcome 1.2 “consider contentious or controversial issues in history from more than one perspective and discuss the historical roots of a contentious or controversial issue or theme in the contemporary world.” Although, I have to confess, I’ve often struggled to illustrate to junior students how content relevant to one part of the JC History course can comfortably be applied to other potential exam questions. They really seem to struggle with the possible language of those questions (shrug emoji)…

I’ve found in the past that focusing on a key figure in history can be really helpful for students with very little prior knowledge of events in Northern Ireland, which seems increasingly the case as time goes on (or as I get older and older!?!). The documentary is available on YouTube (in 4 parts), but there’s one slight blip in the break up of the sections, but I’ve indicated on the handout how to get around that.

So what I did, to try and make this more productive for students, is to build a video worksheet that allows students to draw information directly from the documentary, but also allows room for ‘extended writing‘ pieces (things that might be 10 or 15 mark questions in the Junior Cycle exam), along with questions around forming an historical judgment, gerrymandering, pictures matching exercises and creating a timeline of Hume’s life.

I know it’s my personal opinion, but it’s hard to be anything but full of admiration for Hume’s life, with all of its struggles and successes. It can be a real joy to expose students to his ideas and help them to assess his impact.

I’m fairly sure that the worksheet (with some slight alterations) could also be useful for introducing the context in which the LC History University Controversy case study could be introduced, and could be used selectively for Pol-Soc classes on Northern Ireland’s political system. I present it above as a pdf and MS Word file, so that you can adapt it yourself for your own needs and your class’s own ability levels. I’ll also post some sample answers to the questions (when I get around to it), so that the (increasingly high number of) students who are absent from school these days can complete it (and mark their responses!) at home.

As always, any constructive criticisms and suggestions are most welcome!

My sincerest happy and healthy New Year’s wishes to you all.


PS There’s a link to the YouTube video in the handout, but here it is, just in case.

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